Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Things Get Sweet with Decadent Creations

I am not a morning person. Less so as time has it's effect on me. But once in a while there is something worth getting up for.

Local favorite bakery creations is one of them. Decadent Creations was going from weekend seller at Beaverton Farmers Market to having a micro-shop. Which is why there was this long line in Hillsboro, Oregon the other day. The woman in red way down there?

That's Mindy Simmons, baker and owner of Decadent Creations, who had just happily ran down the line giving high fives to everyone.

Because Mindy Simmons isn't just a great baker but a very creative one. Like making this giant sugar cookie ribbon to be cut for the store opening.

You might be asking what's a micro-shop? I'd say it's the next step up from a pop-up. In Decadent Creations case it's actually pretty clever because they opened inside Fancy That, a party supply store in Hillsboro. So now people can do one stop shopping for their parties. I agree that's pretty awesome.

After waiting in line outside I finally made it into the store. I was customer 50 so I was given the last gift bag. I didn't think I would get one so that was nice. Says something when this many people show up at 10:30 am for a small store opening.

The inside of Fancy That is pretty colorful. Not just party supplies but also gifts and more. I spied a number of boxes of Smith Tea. I should go back and get a box of Julie's Original Cake Mix right?

Getting closer to Decadent Creations. They are located in the back of the store where there is also an entrance from the parking lot. Really cute furnishings and fridge that match the color scheme of the store.

Mindy and her husband. Both were beaming as they helped all the customers. Business has picked up since Mindy's appearance and win on the show Chopped. Decadent Creations has been popular with locals for a while but now demand has helped them reach this goal of a shop open most days. They also do special orders and sell cookies, bars and breads online.

Getting closer and finally being able to see what's in the case. The goods are baked at Mindy's professional kitchen and brought in daily.

Besides all the lovely cakes there were mini cupcakes and tarts. But the real temptation for me were those rainbow rows of macarons.

To the side was a clever set-up of cookie jars where customers can serve themselves along with breads. Payment was at the Fancy That registers which helped speed things up.

I chose a piece of Salty Dog Cake which has toffee chunks and salted ganache drizzle. It's nice to find cakes that are a step above the usual. The flavors of this were great and I definitely want to try a Salty Dog Brownie next. That and more chocolate chip cookies because the one in the gift bag reminded me of home made way more than most and was great.

As for those macarons, yes I got one of each. What can I say, I like macarons a lot. The flavor range was good from usual ones like pistachio and peppermint to honey, carrot cake and lemon lavender. I'm still eating my way through them but so far my favorites have been hazelnut, lemon lavender and salted caramel which was the best salted caramel macaron I have eaten. The balance of salt to sweet was perfect and the caramel flavor did not overwhelm but was just right. The cookies were crisp and light on the outside and the centers chewy and creamy. Just like a macaron should be.

It's great there is another choice for a bakery in the area and it's nice to see good people doing well and their business growing. I definitely plan on stopping in again especially since it means I don't have to get up early to go to the farmers market.

Decadent Creations is located inside Fancy That at 1336 NE Orenco Station Pkwy, Hillsboro, OR 97124. There isn't a big sign outside for Decadent Creations so look for Fancy That. Fancy That's website with directions and hours is here which is the same for the micro-store Decadent Creations.

Decadent Creations website is here. Hours and location and dates at the Beaverton Farmers Market are also listed plus you can order items online or set up getting special orders.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Say Zeek's Cheese Grill

I've been hoping that with the increase in population out on the far West Side of Portland Metro that new and interesting food options would open up. Well Zeek's Cheese Grill isn't that new because they have a food cart at the Hillsdale Food Park at  6238 SW Capitol Hwy in Portland.

What is new is their micro-restaurant in Bethany Village. It was a little difficult to find since there wasn't an actual address on-line when I went looking for them. Their location along with Koi Fusion, Bowl & Berry, and Cackalack is in the middle of a complex of buildings housing shops and other services. I was successful and can say while their space is small with limited seating inside the large windows and open kitchen area make it feel bigger and there is seating outside.

This was my first time trying Zeek's Cheese Grill food. It looks like the micro restaurant has the same menu offering mac and cheese, soups, salads and of course grilled cheese sandwiches. I like that they have half size offerings which let me be able to try two different sandwiches. The first was the Supreme with Tillamook Cheddar, Provolone, Monterey Jack and Manchego cheese. The bread was fresh and not doughy or hard and there was a slight hint of saltiness on the outside while the cheese was nicely melted inside.

My second choice was the Ciao which I saved for later. Made with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi-dried tomatoes, balsamic reduction, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan-crusted bread this bit of yumminess held up very well.

Even better was dipping it in the side of marinara sauce. A lot of times non-meat sandwiches end up a pile of vegetables that don't have much going for them. But the Ciao is definitely not an afterthought in the mostly meat based sandwich menu. Definitely pleasant and definitely one I would order again.

These new micro restaurants and other smaller dining places seem to be the new trend west of the Tualatin Mountains. It will be interesting to see if they take off since it's harder for food trucks to set up due to regulations. I know a lot of people are looking for interesting and creative prepared food in the area.

So here is the address for Zeek's Cheese Grill micro-restaurant:
4780 NW Bethany Blvd, Portland, Oregon
Which is just north of Washington County and the 26 Highway.
where they now have a map for the location.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

There was this Thing about Eggs and Rabbits

Back in the day of my ancestors. Having something to do with Spring. At least it means at this time of year I can count on a few things. Like the creativity of the Moonstruck chocolatiers making things like this stunning little egg on a nest.

Or if you like colorful egg shaped donuts from Sesame Donuts.

My favorite though comes from Moonstruck Chocolates in the shape of this little dark chocolate bunny. I'm glad they bring him back because he never lasts for long with me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Visit to Smith Teamaker

It seems only fitting that I do this post today. I was planning it soon since my recent visit to the Smith Teamaker Tasting Room was a couple weeks ago. I had purchased from the website before but wanted to visit the actual shop where Smith Teas were put together.

 Located in NW Portland the Smith Teamaker Tasting Room is in an unassuming brick building. Inside the feeling is subdued but with lots of curious and interesting tea related items. There is a serving area where you can taste teas and other drinks or buy various Smith Teas. Behind the counter is where they actually package tea. It's interesting to see how this is done.

 I'd bet many of the items were obtained by Steve Smith during his many travels. The hall way to the bathroom is like viewing a little museum of tea related objects so be sure to check that out if you go to the shop.

You can also sit at the nice tables and enjoy a tea flight if you want.

The flight came with four different types of tea. From left to right was No. 51 Sencha, No. 20 Bai Hao Oolong, No. 17 Darjeeling Second Flush, and No. 16 Honeybush. They were served on a tray along with little jars of each so we could smell how the leave smell prior to brewing.

 We were also given a little almond cookie to eat after tasting our teas. I just love the range of color of the different teas.

And yes I picked Honeybush because it comes from South Africa. This cup was for you Ru.

All the teas were good but I really liked the Second Flush Darjeeling. Darjeeling is hard to find in markets around here. Just to make sure, we tried No. 71 First Flush Darjeeling. Nice but the smoother taste of the Second Flush is what I went with.

I had hoped to get a box of Mei Lin's Green Tea but it seems because it's selling well online it's not sold in the store. So I do need to order that. Overall we enjoyed our visit to Smith Teamaker and it was nice for once to have a tea tasting companion. There is something special about the teas created by Smith Teamaker so if you enjoy tea it's worth checking out.

Smith Teamaker Tasting Room is located at 1626 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97209
Their website is here with information for ordering online or visiting the shop or where you can find their teas in other stores.

I am adding this link to a well written story by Richard Read for the Oregonian/Oregon Live. It's about Steven Smith and his fight against Hepatitis C. It is something we should all be aware of and be checked for and try to prevent.
Oregon Live: Steven Smith and Hepatits C 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Second Time for Batter Up!

When my favorite dining companion visited, the mention of waffles led him to suggest we visit the Aloha Food Truck Pod so he could check out Batter Up. I wrote about my first visit to Batter Up and the pod here.

No problem at all. He ordered the All Star with grilled ham, Swiss cheese and pineapple and was pleased with what he received.

For me it's sweet tooth time so I went with the strawberry cheesecake waffle. Not bad at all. I think they make good waffles which is so important for a food truck like this. I have read good things about their other savory waffle sandwiches.

And it looks like they finally got another cart in there. Diva Dogs which based on their logo has to be related to Cafe Diva Dogs in Newberg, Oregon. From what I've read online, Cafe Diva Dogs started as a food cart so looks like they are going back to their roots with the new food cart in Aloha. I'm sure there will be plenty of customers ready to try them out once they open.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sakura and Sweets

Last year around this time I received a package from Ru in Japan filled with treats. Of course Tashi had to check it out. Thanks again Ru!

I made sure to save one for something special.

 Hanami time in Portland!

Got lucky with good weather and not too many people under the sakura trees.

A special sweet from the Meiji 100% Chocolate Cafe in Tokyo!

I believe this was a limited sakura white chocolate. Lovely packaging and white and pink swirls in the chocolate. I remember the taste being sweet and delicate.

So happy hanami time to everyone from the Portland Waterfront since the sakura is now blooming in Japan.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Grimm Night at Helvetia Tavern

I have a Grimm location post. Actually two Grimm locations! I haven't done one of these in a while. But this one was easy since I'm familiar with both places. So when John Platt, owner of Helvetia Winery said that Grimm was remodeling his house for a week it was pretty obvious that a Grimm viewing party would be needed.

Sure enough one was held last week for us locals to watch Grimm episode "Bad Luck". John explained what went on during filming at the winery to the many people who filled up the outdoor patio at what just happens to be another Grimm location.

Helvetia Tavern!  I did a post about Helvetia Tavern back in 2013 which you can read here if you want. I'm not sure if they always show Grimm when it airs but they did last week. Inside we were sitting at the pool table watching under all those hats.

I enjoyed a glass of Helvetia Winery's 2013 pinot noir with a harvest burger and onion rings. The wine and rings were good, the burger was average. Watching the show with people who enjoy it was fun.

I've been meaning to do a post about Helvetia Winery for some time. At least for now I can share a photo of the house that is where the tastings are done and was the house used for the first part of the show. It looks a bit different inside from what was in the show but John said that he did keep the painting they did inside and the curtains.

Helvetia Winery is in beautiful farm land in Helvetia just north of the 26 freeway. Nearby is Helvetia Lavender Farm and Pacific Crest Alpaca Farm which you pass by on the drive to the winery. Also used by the Grimm crew was the Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm which is part of the lavender farm. This is just a hop, skip and a jump from the winery front door and is where poor Peter met his end.

If you decide to go to the winery you should have better luck than Peter. Not only is there wine to taste and buy but often there are events that happen and sometimes even local salmon for sale. Here's Helvetia Winery's website and they do have an email newsletter also. Along with that they were one of the first winery's in Oregon to offer bouteille fills which means less wine bottles being used. I know I've enjoyed my visits there and need to get back soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Rite of Spring Comes to Nodoguro

Last spring Chef Ryan Roadhouse started Nodoguro as a pop-up. It's a year later, Nodoguro has a set location and Team Nodoguro is once again celebrating spring with the new them The Rite of Spring.

The darker decor of Twin Peaks has been replaced with growing plants and blooms.

Really big blooms. Along with a glowing cloud and blue crystals suspended across the ceiling like rain drops, bringing the outdoors inside.

Along with art work by Elena's father Alexander Kornienko and these creative pieces by Kim Hamblin.

Definitely a feeling of spring in the room.

The new menu is reflective of the theme with Chef Ryan not only adding touches of spring but also hints of Russian fare since The Rite of Spring is a famous ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky and the original choreographer was Vaslav Nijinsky, both who were Russian. Adding to this was lovely classical music playing including The Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsy.

Wine and sake were available by the glass and also ginger beer. Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto sake, Johan Vineyards Nils Reserve Pinot Noir 2007, Fossil and Fawn Vineyards Pinot Gris 2013 and Katana sake were just some of the offerings. A four glass food pairing was available.

First up was this beautiful translucent Kelp Pressed Flounder Sashimi dusted with Sakura salt and bathed in Winter Citrus. The delicate flowers on top are currant blossoms. This really was lovely to see in person.

What looked like an average bowl of Young Bamboo and Wakame in Dashi really was much more. Loaded with umami from both the dashi and shaved ham it was topped with little prickly ash fronds.

This was followed by Seared Bonito topped with Cured Egg, Young Garlic and Water Pepper Blossoms. The fish looked like it was dancing on the plate. The taste of the bonito reminded me of really good katsuobushi. Knowing this must be higher quality bonito than what one normally gets at restaurants might not be what diners are use to but this is what the good stuff tastes like. I found the Johan Vineyard Pinot Noir went well with these umami filled dishes.

I couldn't help but try to take photos of the flowers blooming while waiting between dishes. Elena Roadhouse once again created a lovely visualization of the theme. Really wish more pop-up and set menu small seatings would get into this. It adds so much to the dining experience.

I jokingly called the next serving The Foraged Dish because it really was made of various local plants. A Nettle and Pickled Ginger Salad graced with Oregon Grape Blossoms. To me it reminded me of spring just starting to come out of dark winter time.

This might not look like the Beef Tongue with Hazelnuts and Wasabi dish. Because it's not. It's nice to know that if you do need a minor substitution that Chef Ryan is in most cases happy to accommodate. Personally I don't eat beef if at all possible. So I ended up with the same dish except for some very nice clams from Washington. This was a lovely dish with great flavor from the broth.

More dancing fish, this time Sesame Sable Fish with Cherry Blossom Jam and Breakfast Radishes. The jam was delicious and reminded me of miso that is usually plated with sable fish. But no miso in this. The cherry blossoms Chef Ryan used for the dinner he obtained locally himself. Another lovely dish and the Katana sake was really nice with this.

Getting towards the end and what was the masterpiece of the meal. Mackeral Steak with Aged Miso, Crispy Ginger, Grilled Chive and lots of blossoms including currant and Oregon grape. Chef Ryan carefully removed all the bones from the mackeral, reformed the steaks and then cooked it at a very low temperature to come up with what was the best tasting mackeral I have ever eaten. I can't help but imagine a young girl with her hair covered with flowers as part of a spring festival. Really amazing dish.

But it was not over yet. For next was a bowl of local Smoked Salmon mixed with Spring Vegetable Rice. I didn't catch everything that was in this bowl but if I heard right there was sea beans, cypress, bamboo, shiso and of course prickly ash. Topping this was some of Chef Ryan's really good marinaded ikura and a little wasabi. I mixed this all up really well and it was a joy to eat with the ikura creating delicious little surprises along with all the other great flavors. If you eat this definitely stir it up because it makes it even better.

Pretty much know it's near the end of the feast when Chef Ryan's yummy Tamagoyaki is placed in front of you. But it was not over yet.

Just a shot of Chef Ryan Roadhouse plating up one final dish with Sou Chef Mark Wooten working in the back ground. And yes some of the produce was provided by Mark Wooten's Phantom Rabbit Farm. Sounds like it will be a really good year for the farm. I am hoping to get to one of the farm dinners this summer.

Finally here is what Chef Ryan was plating up. An ode to Russian Tea Cakes which was followed by black tea. Definitely one of the most creative desserts it was soy milk with koji which was made into a type of farmer's cheese. The taste was similar to cheese cake but not as sour. It topped a crumble made with sunflower flour if I remember correctly. Matcha dusted the top along with a couple anise flavored mint leaves from Phantom Rabbit Farms. Encircling this all was a honey tasting syrup that Mark said was birch syrup. Pretty amazing dessert.

Another stupendous dinner from the Nodoguro team. Really feels like Chef Ryan is feeling more comfortable with what he is doing and stretching further with even more creative and delicious meals. Once again I was sad when it was over because I would love to eat many of these dishes again. I guess that's the downfall of enjoying great food.

There are still a few seats available and always a possibility that more nights could be added. And of course new themes and dining experiences to come.